ellensagh

Thailand 2009

THAILAND
– Feb. 3 – Mar. 3/09

 

Nite before we left – awake at 1 am; remembering to cancel paper which Bob
did at 5 am.  He is looking for sunglasses pouch as taxi arrives.
Leave Saskatoon at 7:15 am and arrive over snow capped mountain
sunrise at Vancouver at 7:20 am. Gate 66 – Air China -2 hour delay;
but 3pm we are off; 525 mph and soon over Anchorage Alaska; -73 below
outside the aircraft. Plane revving up over ocean not real
reassuring.  Crew call us aliens as they hand us immigration papers
for 6pm arrival in Beijing. It’s dark.  We have a beer; it says no
formaldehyde in it.  Not long we are in Bangkok and it is plus 32
degrees.  Taxi to prearranged hotel on Kozan Road; and find we had
booked hotel for night before. It is 1 am their time. We are out on
street with our bags and it’s like a Broadway Fringe – only 5 times
busier; but by 2 am a taxi has found us a lovely room with breakfast
at Golden Horse Hotel.  Before we left that other hotel; we booked
the next two nights there and left our golf bags there; so in morning
went for a 2 hour walk after breakfast; then took tuk tuk ride
(motorcycle with cart)with bags back to D & D hotel on Kozan
road. Lay by the rooftop pool. 

 

CITY
Tour -Grand Palace with Emerald Buddha that had been broken out of
plaster.  Royal family is big here. They love their King who is now
81 and longest reigning monarch in world.  Pictures of him all over
city and country.  River tour on long boat; see lots of tugs; go
through canal that has like lily pads with flowers all around it;
houses on stilts along the water; the  guide gave me buns for feeding
catfish along the side; trees of pink flowers; banana trees; palm
trees.   Buddha’s Ashes Temple; definitely a Buddhist country.
Bangkok’s landmark next – Temple of the Dawn; like made out
porcelain; we walk up narrow steps; very high; Bob’s quads go pins
and needles.  On ferry to cross wharf; floating buffet lunch out on a
500 km long river; longest river in Thailand.  Light food; fresh
pineapple; papaya salad.  Reclining Buddha temple -1000 tons of
cement painted with gold paint.

 

 

Temples
called Wats are everywhere.  Temples are the parking lots.  7 -10
million people here.   We drink Singha; (their beer) and water.  Hard
but huge beds. Goldfish in hotel grounds bigger than jackfish.
Toilet tissue napkins.  Heat isn’t too bad.   I don’t feel sticky.
They have crows, pigeons, song birds; skinny cats; Thai silk; Banyan
tree is sacred and colored cloths around it lots of places.   People
buy flower something as prayer symbol to hang in homes; cars;
everywhere to do with sacred.   Our Sunday stroll going against the
flow of temple goers who are buying eggs, bacon, flowers for offering
to the poor. See the made to measure Armani suits; tailors
everywhere; internet places,  Stop and  let everyone know all is
well;  atm’s; currency exchanges all over.  When leave hotel room;
take key out of socket; all lights/ air cond shuts off.   By next
day; Bob says, “I am Bangkoked out.” 

 

One
hour taxi ride to different area of city – 150 Baht – (30 baht =
about a $1.00). Mothers on motorcycles have helmets; kid’s don’t.
Elephant on street does it’s owner’s bidding.  No, I would not
buy trapped birds to fly free for luck but saw lots do it. An
elephant’s trunk comes within a foot of my fish and chips at the
British Pub on #4 Sukamvet Road ; Thailand’s Dark Side – hundreds
of white men on bar stools waiting for the right Thai woman; could be
baby in tow or not.

 

Saw
a shopping market; most cosmopolitan I’ve seen; more so than
Ireland and I was impressed there.  Here a Prada store is like a huge
bank building.  Notice hair and skin so soft after only a couple
days. No one walks around here with a mug of coffee. No coffee in
hotel rooms.  People don’t look buzzed; but a ¼ cup of coffee = 4
of ours.  

 

Freeway
on top of freeway and then we’re on the BUS TO HUA HIN – a city -it
says 50,000 people; summer home of royal family.  No bathroom on bus
and I had to go before I got on.  Heading for the country.
Everywhere retail; lots of construction.  Shanty town; then upscale
Car Dealership; tin roof house; top end landscaped condominium
development; garbage dump lot; palm trees; sugar cane fields; A &
W; electrical wires everywhere; glass topped fence barricades;
warehouse factories; sweatshops?   Next a shrimp farm and then a salt
farm – wheelbarrows of salt being pushed around; so much physical
work happens here. 4 hour bus ride; 2 hours in; so happy to see a
squat toilet.

 

Arrive.
Have a walk along the China Sea; we are in a deluxe hotel; swimming
pool outside our room; palm trees reflected in the water. A glass of
wine; a full moon; a seafood restaurant out over the ocean. How nice
is that!!!

 

Every
day pleasant. Walks along the beach for miles. Sunrise.  Crescendo of
Howling dogs during the night.  We had a wonderful meal for about 120
baht; then a Hagen Daus store charged us 580 baht for tea and
dessert. What? We called it our Date Night.  European tourists;
mostly Denmark; Sweden; Finland and Norway.  I am always shocked when
English doesn’t come out. Fire Truck comes down the street at 7pm
-2 guys with hose waters down the street; 4 scrubbers scrub it down.
Next day we walk about 8 -10 blocks to the Royal Hua Hin golf course;
oldest course in Thailand; beautiful stately trees. Bob is on tee box
and there are at least 3 monkeys with their babies swinging behind
him.   Women water the fairways and greens by hand. P]They are
picking the weeds by hand.  We golfed with Peter from Germany and our
3 caddies.

 

6-7
km walk down the beach; find the Buddhist monastery/retreat type
center.  Bob feeds the fat cats (donation box asks for that).   We
move to the cheaper Jed Pee Nong Hotel.  Swim in the shade of the
pool hottest part of the day; our balcony is in the shade. Listening
to the songbirds. We are so enjoying the warmth; the humidity.
Doesn’t seem real hot.  Hot water comes from roof top tanks.  Don’t
wait until 4 to have a beer;  goes down good.  Coffee costs more than
a beer.  Last night a yellow shirt gathering and a walk through the
night market.  Dinner of yellow chicken curry; morning glory stir fry
in oyster sauce; shrimp with garlic and peppers.  Watched woman stir
fry pad tai with mussels outside in open air. Thousands of retail
establishments/street side/sidewalk businesses/vendors.  Like
Broadway Fringe again/ only so much bigger.  Motorcycles everywhere.
Sign in our hotel says Taxi service everywhere.  Eating oranges,
mango, pineapple.  Been here 10 days.  Have first western meal.
Lasagna/spaghetti; would rather Thai and would have been 5 times
cheaper. 

 

Every
day/evening balmy/beautiful.  Bob loves it.  I have a skin irritation
going on; ankles; knees; elbows; wrist areas. Probably heat rash.
One hour songtow ride which was a man on a bike with little carriage
driving us all over  town. To the pier; new streets; night market;
Thai market; beach, wharf; railway station; Thai silk show room.
Note motorcycle mailmen; McDonald’s sponsored the traffic
policeman’s uniform.

 

Go
for swimsuit try ons. Booked tomorrow’s golf tour.  Only 2 weeks
left. Bob goes for first beach walk alone.  I golf better after Thai
massage.  On beach, horses with shiny coats give rides up and down
the beach.  Did buy little gold bikini. 2 weeks and have only heard
English twice: the woman at golf course from England and English man
living in Spain talked to us on the street.  Woman maids even wash
the outside of the hotel room doors.  Really clean rooms.  Decide to
stay another week. Used internet and Bob went to driving range. I
read.  We walk through manicured landscaped Victorian style gardens
of oldest hotel here; then across street see the biggest rat on our
way to dinner. Romantic garden. Easy listening music. Woman came up
who spoke English and we were able to ask for not too spicy. 

 

Can
see stars from our balcony.  Haven’t heard a plane. Have not seen a
microwave. Bought antiseptic cream as hands are like itchy hives or
something. Ocean is warmer than the pool.  I have a pedicure. Bob has
a manicure.  Lots of jellyfish. Today saw live jellyfish.  We both
are enjoying ocean and our new bathing suits.  No government programs
here; no pensions. No OH &S; no goggles for welding; no hard
hats; flip flops or bare feet are the shoes.  Our golfing van picks
us up. Leather seats. First time in a vehicle in about 10 days.  To
Springfield Golf & Country Club.  Palm trees; blue birds, herons;
birds with tails; lush fairways. I thought I nearly got a birdie.
Some areas off the fairway look like farming country.  I say I could
buy a lot here and Bob says maybe at the beach.  Some guy recognizes
we’re from Canada. Bob and he know same people. 

 

Ride
home; cows with long floppy ears like elephants being herded down the
road.  Pineapple, banana, mango and rice fields.  Sunset. I have quit
drinking singha beer and coffee.  Internet.  Printed off tickets
home. Broke glasses by laying on them during my afternoon nap. SASI
Dinner Theatre.    Show starts and our camera out of memory.  Bob and
I up there doing the pole dance; one of the traditional Thai dances.
Next day at Black Mountain Golf Course; 2
nd
best Course in Asia.  Chi, a Thai businessmaan and real estate
/finance, Leonard, from Austria and our caddies are with us.   WOW
they are having PGA in 2 weeks.  Course is deluxe. Jacuzzi in womens
locker room.  Caddie says, “Madam NO Bunker No Madam; oh Never
mind.” 

 

Our
walks – we note: colorful buses; even dump trucks; pink taxis; watch
for rats; teak doors; tour of beach golf villas; studio suites
overlooking ocean; deluxe; superior. I thought I saw a microwave –
was a safe.  Could not tour palace; not dressed appropriately.
Orange & pineapple juice – ranged from 20, 33 up to 45 cents
Canadian. Incredible dinner over the Ocean. Awesome deep fried fish;
largest deep fried prawn in tamerind sauce; papaya salad; too hot a
chile pepper. 10 raw oysters and all kinds of sauces. Thai dessert
like stewed apricots in ice.  Appeared to be Thai families and
couples. Heineken  beer works for me.  Bob does not have any problems
with beer.

 

Banyan
Golf & Country Club – 10 am tea time; it’s the day after their
grand opening. Carts only. Beaugenvillia flowers & pineapple are
the landscaping.  Deluxe locker rooms.  $6500 Baht for 2 with rental
clubs and carts; $500 for caddies.  About $115. C each.  This golf
course built with Finlander’s money; Black Mountain was with
Swedish.  Now have seen 2 planes go over.  Another seafood dinner;
brownie cheesecake for dessert.  There is lots of traffic but have
not seen accidents; heard 3 sirens and one car security alarm in
nearly 3 weeks.

 

Bought
my first pair of sunglasses. Bob got fold up readers at a Canadian
Parka store (parkas sold for $120 C). Replaced my readers. Gin &
tonic Night Cap at Admiral’s Den with sail far whooshing back and
forth above our heads.  End of another beautiful day together.
Loving being together; golf, beach, pool; walk dinner; drinks and
bed.  I have had non stop vivid foreign dreams since I got here.
Morning walks along fishing pier; people fishing from shore; dried
fish on screens in sun; Fishing boats -some look like house boats;
but most small; but are unloading in morning from being out all
night; then reloading with ice and heading out again.  Crew is young
guys in their 20’s.  At night, lights dot the ocean from all the
different boats.

 

Sitting
in the shade of the palm trees at the beach – note all the vendors;
horse riders with vests that say volunteer police; sarongs; some like
bedspreads of Thai silk; ice cream cooler things; man walking with
menu in his hand; manicurist going by; pineapple and corn; eggs;
peanuts; papaya and mango; will make a salad for you; jet skis with
banana boat; kite surfing; last night saw 18-20 colorful ones up at
once; two  women masseuse working on an Asian man beside us; Asian
woman has white cream on her face; workmen have toques with only eyes
showing at booths along the street; head scarfs; little brooms;
shells; fans, bags; beach blankets; skirts; shirts; sun dresses;
beach cover ups; donuts; pastries; they’ve got you covered.

 

4
HOUR RIDE TO TROPICAL ISLAND KOH SAMET Feb 23/09.  Went through
different area of Bangkok.  Some areas so lush; beautiful; humungous
bridges let ships into city.  Little trucks with boxes full of
people.  Three headed elephant sculpture.  Lots of traffic; not
chaotic.  Saw one incident; not accident; truck pulled too close to
ditch and tipped.  Balanced speed and driving.  4 freeways on top of
each other. Toll booth; none of us can read how much.  Warehouses as
big as city blocks between Bangkok and Pattaya.  $3500 baht for taxi.

Taxi
driver lost so saw some different routes. Could not find Ban Phe
where we were to get our boat. Did. Pier. Paid $1600. For ticket and
young guys grabbed Bob’s golf bag; another his back pack; both
going different ways but seconds later we were going down this gang
plank to the biggest speed boat and seconds later we were BOUNCING
our way to this island.  Taxi driver and his mother had stood their
waving from the dock. I’m trying to take pictures & put on
sunscreen. CRAZY! High speed ride out into the ocean where you had to
hold on and life jackets are non existent.  Man across from me has a
pail of flopping fish.   Go flying into the beach; anchor goes down;
boat turns around and I take my shoes off; step into knee deep water
and walk to the beach. 

 

TUB
TIMS – gay beach resort on this island paradise.  To a bungalow with
bed, overhead fan; shower; screens on windows and doors; $600.00 Baht
a night; about 20.00 C.  White sand beaches. Guide book says best
sand for glass blowing.  Breakfast next day say I ask for the
cornflakes; milk and a plate of fruit.  It all comes together. Mouth
watering good. Pineapple, papaya, watermelon and banana.  Our whole
trip, Bob and I could not explain that we wanted two cups; with one
tea bag and extra hot water  Now this beach, first time we are
meeting and speaking with English speaking people about round the
world events; Karrie, whale watching tour owner from Australia;
Richard. Interior Designer from the Hague; Doe; nurse from Holland,
Cassandra ,teacher from New Zealand; Gordon from England, who’d
been with BBC; these are all in their 40’s and 50’s; came their
for years.   Bob’s brother, Buck was there as well for 5 days; knew
all those people and knows so much about the island and the world
from years of traveling.

 

Seafood
extravaganza everyday –  little too spicy for our noses and our eyes;
but makes the wine taste better.  Our dinner table on the sand each
night by candlelight under the stars within feet of the ocean waves
lapping the shore. 

 

Morning
– dogs barking; roosters crowing; cicadias like tree frogs – loudest
cricket noise you ever heard.  They came about the 2
nd
or 3
rd
morning; and we were told they will transform the jungle foliage.
Flowers of every color can be seen in our walk to the breakfast
table.  Massage is $200 baht; about $ 6.80 c.   People serving us
work from 6 am – 10 pm – 2 hours off in the afternoon; receive their
food and some their accommodation.  15 &  16 year old guys who
serve us; look 8 and 10.  All so strong.  Physical shape of workers
is incredible as all is physical.

 

Fresh
water is delivered to the island by boat and pumped ashore.
Everything comes from mainland – food , transportation; lumber; ice.
Navy brought in a backhoe and truck to build a road and reservoir
upgrade; biggest excitement they had seen in a long time.  Long walks
along beach through sand fluffy like flour. Another walk through the
island village where a pier is for ferries and fishing boats.
Village internet; motorcycles fill up at two barrels with pump on
top.  Talked to Uget from Montreal.  A walk to the reservoir and then
to Au Pocha bay on other side of island; as well as Sunset viewpoint.
Still seafood each day; mussels; scallops, hot spicy dish we could
not eat, panang peanut chicken,  vegetable and sticky rice.  Young
women were writing messages on paper lanterns; then lighting them and
sending them off into the sky. 

 

Long
walk  one day from one end of the island to the other; took 3 hours;
was extremely difficult in places; comparable to the PERU experience.
We had not been prepared. I was in flip flops; there were great
slabs of rocks; felt like a monkey; holding on to trees, coral
everywhere on some of the isolated beaches. Most deluxe resort I’ve
ever seen was on one ; about $25000 Baht a night- about $830. C.
Thank goodness we agreed to take taxi back. Sand like powder on the
road; with rocks; and when we get in the back of the truck and he
takes off; we are covered in fine dust. Road unlike anything we have
ever seen.  Gave him a Saskatchewan Pin and the $400 – best $400.
Baht we spent. 

 

Afternoon
naps.  Heineken.  Swims in the ocean. Don’t need snorkel; up to my
head and I can see my feet; and all else in there.  Can have all the
fresh pineapple I want. All kinds of birds; squirrels; ghekkos.  Dog
with 8 pups; pups could not crawl when we first saw them; now like in
exploring stage. Bob did a little money laundering one afternoon
there; a swim in the ocean with about $10000. Baht.    The key hadn’t
been lost; it was sitting in the lock outside our bungalow.  We are
relaxed. 

 

Saw
my first cicadia. At night; they  Thai people gather them with
torches; and later eat them.  Amazing amount of noise they make.
Leaves are falling like our fall.  Jungle rejuvenation each year. 

 

On
our fourth week; going so fast.  Fire show extrordinaire!  It stinks
so much.  Gas sniffing for the teen performers and audience alike.
Week has flown by.  Found out it is 38 degrees each day. 31 degrees
in bungalow right now.  Lovely breeze off ocean.  Didn’t seem like
38 degrees.  Feels like Saskatoon 25.  Thought – after toilet
squatting for awhile; sitting on one seems the height of laziness.  

 

Fascinating
model photo shoot.  Jewelry shopping on the beach.  Two more nights
to listen to the surf.  And then the rain came. Walk after the rain.
Freshness of the tress; the beautiful variety of greens; with teak
bungalows peaking through.  Turbulent water; thunderous waves. The
first of March 2009 – 2
nd
last day in Thailand.  Sitting at Buddy’s Bar & Grill
discussing the topless German woman Bob always saw and I saw once.
Barbecued spareribs with Heineken, Green Curry with Palm Hearts;
Barbecued white snapper, Deep Fried Morning Glory;  Rice with Carrot
and Mint Garnish,  Shrimp and Red Wine.  Fim and Nit were main
servers. Nit’s grandparents on both sides were farmers; mostly rice
but some corn, onion and garlic.    Last night gin and tonic on the
deck; sarong drying on the balcony watching women collecting bugs. On
our walk last night; a piece of coral as big as my hand laying on
shore. Can’t take as preserving coral reef.

 

The
gheko slept with us last night; woke me at 4am; didn’t sleep after
that.  Thinking of non stop digital camera fun that all had on this
beach each day. Last day; all the male waiters coming to shake our
hands good-bye. Boat arrives at 4 pm and we’re back on land again.
To Bangkok airport with plan for leisurely dinner.  Club sandwich
ordered ; I  eat ¼ and I’m out across from restaurant and hurl
into a wastebasket.  We get on the plane and during takeoff; same
thing happens to Bob.  We sleep fitfully.

 

Sunrise
over China. Bus waiting on Tarmac to take us to connecting lounge in
Beijing Airport.  – 3 degrees.  Glad we passed the temperature test
and no one caught on we’d been sick or we’d have been in
quarantine.  Had a $100 C bill and cost about $10. To get $505 yen.
Had tea and toast; tea in little tea cups like being in playschool.
More workers in that airport than patrons.  $465. US for a pair of
dressy type runners.  Found lounge chairs in the sun as the airport
is not heated.  Smog in the city is thick. 

 

Vancouver
airport will have it’s work cut out to look ½ as fantastic as
Beijing’s.  Ride from Van to XYE at Saskatoon was quick and
painless.  Time to sleep as it was 42 hours since getting on the boat
but wow what an unforgettable holiday. 

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: